Oreck cleans up with brand-intelligent direct response marketing campaigns

Client: Oreck Corporation
Vendors: Vizu and ValueClick
To drive direct response campaign goals in a brand-safe manner

Vacuum cleaner manufacturer the Oreck Corporation, based in Tennessee, is all about direct response, but never at the expense of brand consideration.

While many direct response marketers depend heavily on click-through rate (CTR) to measure online activity and to optimize against campaign objectives, that reliance is sometimes at the expense of other important but overlooked factors, such as shifting consumer perceptions, intent, preference and brand awareness.

At any given time, Oreck is in the midst of running a mixture of online ads, including dynamic and static creative; strategic, behavioral and retargeting initiatives; and demographic and contextual placements. It’s a lot of activity, and though Oreck has always had good CTR, the brand wanted to make sure its ads weren’t, as Oreck’s interactive marketing manager Linda Tilt put it, “turning people off the brand.”

To get a deeper understanding of its brand impact, Oreck called on its partner, online marketing services company ValueClick, which in turn utilized Vizu‘s Ad Catalyst, a marketing solution platform designed to complement CTR by providing marketers with information about how consumers are reacting to specific campaigns in real time.

Known as “brand lift,” it’s a metric that marketers can’t afford to ignore, says Jeff Smith, CMO and SVP of client services at Vizu.

“People often think of CTR and brand lift as completely different things, and the direct marketer doesn’t always think about how what they’re doing has a branding impact,” Smith says. “The key takeaway here is that every impression is also an interaction with the brand.”

STRATEGY: Ad Catalyst works by randomly selecting a percentage of the consumers who engaged with a piece of creative — known in the parlance of the Vizu backend as “exposed” — and asking them a simple question via a Web poll to ultimately determine how well the campaign is performing against its primary objectives.

In Oreck’s case, consumers were asked, “If you were to purchase a vacuum cleaner, which one of the following would you consider?” followed by a list of options, including Oreck and several of its direct competitors. The Ad Catalyst platform simultaneously tracked a control group of consumers who were exposed to the question, but not the specific campaign.

After responding to the question, consumers continued their Web surfing activities while Ad Catalyst worked in the background, gathering data on awareness, attitudes, favorability, intent and preference — all the ingredients that go into calculating brand lift.

Through a Web-based dashboard, Oreck could track various display campaigns in real time, including exactly which creative consumers had seen, where they had seen it, how many times they had been exposed and through which targeting segments. If a piece of creative doesn’t perform, the platform allows marketers to immediately take appropriate action.

“We’re seeing exactly what creative works best, what sizes, what frequency, all while the campaign is running,” says Denise Zaraya, director of vertical networks at ValueClick. “And then we optimize to those metrics.”

RESULTS: For Tilt, the most interesting aspect of the experiment was to see whether Oreck’s display campaign could not only drive traffic, but also have a positive impact on the brand.

“What’s so exciting about this is that it makes every direct response ad into a branding opportunity for understanding what kind of brand favorability you have,” Tilt says. “It’s a new way to go about your media buying and optimization.”

Oreck found that its display campaigns weren’t just driving traffic — it was actually having a positive impact on the brand, Tilt says, and the proof is in the numbers: 19% of the control group chose Oreck in the Web poll, as did 30.2% of the exposed consumers, thus achieving a 59% brand lift, three time higher than the average for similar Oreck direct response campaigns.

“I applaud Oreck for realizing that there’s a difference between performance-based marketing and brand marketing,” Vizu’s Smith says. “And I applaud them for the forward-thinking manner in which they approach direct response marketing.”

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